Written by Team Juggernaut
Photos by Adam Palmer, Photo Reactive
This was one of the biggest and most fun meets I have ever done. Walking away as the 52kilo national champ was just icing on the cake, but hanging with the rest of TeamJTS, meeting, interacting and taking selfies with everyone there made the weekend the most memorable. The energy in that place was off the charts and once the anxiety of lifting was over it was really cool to take it all in and do it surrounded by people I love.
Squats: Warm-ups felt great and this is the first time I didn’t drop my opener and went in feeling really confident. That confidence was short-lived, however, when I was red lighted for depth on my first attempt. I was mortified because usually once I fail it’s really hard for me to regroup and get my confidence back (this is the lift I bombed out in at nationals 3 years prior). Really thankful I had my coach in my corner telling me that I could do it and just to go out there and show them. Second and third attempt went up without a hitch and I ended with a 297lb 3rd attempt. We felt all my attempts were well below parallel and Chad nearly lost it a few times at the head judge and I can’t say how awesome it is to have someone in your corner that has your back and will go to bat for you; thank you Chad for your belief in me no matter what.
Bench: This is my favorite lift, but in the weeks leading up to the meet my trap and scalene had been giving me problems making my bench very inconsistent. We decided to drop my openers and just go for the win versus a possible record and looking back at how fast and smooth they all went up I wish I had a 4th attempt!! There will be other meets and sometimes you gotta play the numbers game, especially when a spot on the world team is up for grabs. I ended the day with 187lb bench and way more in the tank.
Deads: All three attempts felt AWFUL. The bar kept getting away from me on the left side and after looking at videos from the front my hand positioning was way off. By my 2nd attempt we had already secured the win so we decided to chip the bar and break my previous American record with a 370lb pull. Pretty sure it was stuck to the floor for 30 seconds but by sheer willpower and an ugly rounded back it finally went up and it was the best feeling ever regardless of the ugliness of the lift and my derp face.
Thank you to everyone that is always so kind and supportive; I hope I give back even a fraction of what you all give to me. Can’t wait to represent Team USA in June!
Gleaming lights, more than 1100 lifters, 4 perfectly stationed platforms, cheering friends, teammates, coaches; the perfect combination of comfort and chaos. The 2015 USAPL Raw National Championship was an absolute rush. In general, I am a nervous lifter and emotions were definitely running high on meet day. I always mention how crucial it is to have the proper mentality going into a difficult training set, or a particularly important meet, and I am still learning how to improve this aspect of my lifting. Upon reflection, it is something I should have spent more time refining because my training cycle had actually gone extremely well. Lifting has two main components: physical preparation and mental preparation. Physically, we increased volume, training frequency, and improved recovery techniques. My goals were intricately outlined, and training had gone exactly as expected up until the final weeks before the meet. However, my peak presented itself with some obstacles. I found it difficult to watch my team members hitting PRs and finishing their cycles with a lot of positive energy, while I was essentially mentally depleted. Despite being super happy for them, I felt that I was doing something wrong, whereas in actuality, I was just beginning to let the pressure get to me. SELF MADE pressure. We’re all human; learning to control external factors is part of the journey. I am slowly learning to embrace it.
On to the actual meet.
I ended my day with a 405 kg total, going 142.5/ 75/ 187.5. I ultimately placed 3rd in the 63 kg Open division, and qualified for the Arnold with a 444 wilks. Given these statistics, I should have been really pleased with my performance, but truthfully, I was pretty unhappy with how it unfolded.
Of all of my lifts, I struggle most with the squat, mainly because it is the one lift where I feel I never perform to my true potential. This proved to be a struggle for me again at nationals. In the warm-up room, I was desperately attempting to trick myself into thinking that my warm-ups felt light, when in reality, it felt like I was holding the world on my back. My training had gone very well and I was able to get much more comfortable with squatting heavier weight during the cycle leading into nationals, so I was excited to see what I was capable of. I opened up my squat at 132.5 kg (292#), and it felt AWFUL. However, both Ryan and Chad told me it looked solid and speedy. This led us to make a decision to jump right to 142.5 kg (314#) for my second attempt. I walked up to the bar with some hesitation…and missed. I’ve hit 320# in the gym, so of course I felt extreme disappointment. My expectation for the meet was to hit 325# – 336#, so MISSING 314# was hugely discouraging. Immediately I knew I needed to clean up my mindset, because realistically, that weight was not going to feel any easier, and I needed to nail this lift to continue working towards my goals for the day. Grindy, but I came back…and I got it (insert exaggerated sigh of relief here).
I have only recently began to love the bench press. By increasing my benching frequency and volume, I spent much more time actually benching than during my previous training cycles. This allowed my bench to take a pretty big leap forward which was exciting. My year-long goal is to hit 176#, and I have been steadily moving towards accomplishing this goal. I ended up hitting a fairly easy 75 kg (165#) on my second attempt, and just missed 77.5 kg on my third. I was still really happy about that performance because that was a 5 kg meet PR on bench, my weakest lift, which was huge for me. I even opened with my previous meet PR of 70 kg (155#). The biggest lesson I learned while training my bench which realistically is something I should apply to ALL lifts, is to be patient. I am more than ready to get back in the gym to continue working on the technical and physical components of improving my bench press.
Finally onto the best moment of the entire day: deadlift. My last attempt of 187.5 kg (413#) was the highlight of my meet. It was FINALLY an ACTUAL 3x bodyweight pull! My final training session had me pulling that exact weight, and it didn’t go nearly as smoothly. I ended up failing the lift twice; definitely not something you want to happen during your peak. However, I knew the strength was there, especially when the energy from the meet environment was incorporated. After my first two attempts flew up with ease, I was certain I wanted to go for the 187.5 kg meet PR. When I deadlift, I experience an energy that is not present during my other lifts. It’s a sort of euphoria that is both calming and enthralling, all at the same time. I am not nervous, like I am for the squat, I am not hopeful, like I am for the bench, but rather, I am unperturbed. It is just me and the bar, and I KNOW going up to it, that I have it. I don’t hear anyone, I don’t see the crowd, I don’t lack confidence. It’s a unique feeling that I hope someday will manifest itself in my other lifts. It makes the execution of the lift so much more enjoyable and rewarding. I really can’t describe the feeling I got after my last deadlift attempt, but if you watch the video of my pull, I think you can agree that my face says it all.
This meet was certainly a success when you look at my standing and the numbers I hit. It also helped me learn a ton about myself (as every meet does). I didn’t necessarily hit every goal I had set out to achieve, but I gained experience (invaluable), witnessed history in the making, and got to hang out with, as well as learn from, the most genuine, friendly, and outstanding people of the USAPL community. The experience I gain and the memories I make each year at Raw Nationals help me to better myself not only as a lifter, but also as a person. I have this sport, and all of those involved in it, to thank for that.
Raw Nationals 2015 was unexpectedly one of my best meet experiences to date. In the months leading up to Nationals, I wasn’t sure I was even going to compete. Coming off a knee injury that prevented me from squatting for 3-4 months, I knew the numbers I was going to hit weren’t near my best and because of this (as well as the additional INCREDIBLE talent in the 63kg class this year) I knew wasn’t going to be competitive.
As somebody who has been a competitive athlete all of my life, this was a hard pill to swallow. Then I realized that not feeling “worthy” or “good enough” to do a competition that I’ve been excited to do, just bc I knew I wasn’t going to place as I did last year… was absolutely silly. Winning things are fun, but that’s not why any of us got involved in this sport to begin with. As soon as I came to this realization, I no longer felt any pressure or anxiety in my training, and I can honestly say it led into me having probably one of my best and funnest meet experiences to date. I stepped on the platform and did what I love to do solely for my own personal purpose.
Going into the meet and because of my recent injury, squats were my biggest concern. However, I trusted in my training, recovery, and my strength…. walked up to the bar and did what I knew I was capable of doing. I ended up going 3/3 with a 260# third attempt. Though this was 40lbs less than what I squatted at nationals last year, I was just as proud. Every attempt felt smooth and pain free and it gave me the motivation and confidence that I needed to regain in my squat. It assured me that I am on the correct route to recovery and made me excited to progress moving forward.
For the first time in my life, I went 3/3 on bench press ending with a 160# competition meet PR. Improving my bench was a main focus in this training cycle. The increased bench press frequency that I incorporated into the block leading up to my meet seemed to be very beneficial!
My goal was to go 9/9 but I missed one of my deadlift attempts. After my opening deadlift of 314# flew up, I went for 330# on my second attempt. The weight moved fast off the ground, however I wasn’t able to remain tight and had a slight dip after my lockout. In previous meets, any time I had ever missed an attempt, I would let it get into my head and psych myself out… which typically reflected on the rest of my performance. However, this was probably the first time I’ve ever been able to chill out, recollect, and finish after missing a lift. I am confident in saying that this was probably due to the lack of pressure that I placed on myself going into the meet. I ended up increasing to 341# for my third attempt, and I successfully completed it. Though it wasn’t a meet PR, I would say it was a mental PR that I was proud of! All in all, 8/9 wasn’t a bad day.
More importantly, I was blown away and humbled by the amount of people I was fortunate enough to meet and talk to. To know that I’ve had even the slightest amount of influence in any other person’s journey is surreal in itself and I will always strive to be as authentic and helpful as possible bc I’m truly in awe and thankful for the platform that I’ve been given to do so. Like I said before, this was probably one of the best meet experiences I’ve had to date and it reminded me why I love this sport so much. I’m looking forward to taking a long offseason to make the necessary improvements and hitting the National Platform in 2016 healthy, stronger, and better than ever!